It was May. I was dreading another summer of fencing with men at cocktail parties who liked women as much as taxes. Another summer of walking on the beach in the moonlight with my girlfriend Sandy. Panic set in and I picked up the phone.
Rewind: I had grown up in the burbs and, gotten my MRS in the nick of time before I got my BA. Days after I gave birth to my second son, a woman I'd gone to high school with was in the next room having her first baby. Marge had met Don in college, and downloaded him into our community. When it was time for us to go home, the nurse brought the baby in, and swaddled him in our blue flannel layette. But when they went to cut his wrist tag off, turned out he wasn't our baby boy, she was their baby girl. (If only we had discovered the switch outside on the hospital steps, we all would have been rich for life).
Life went on. After two and a half long years of marriage, I got a quickie Alabama divorce. When the boys' Little League careers were over, I dragged them to New York, became a television producer and writer, worked twelve to sixteen hours a day, and thought about Don.
Not specifically, mind you--generically. In our 70's version of Sex and the City, when my girlfriends sat around trying to conjure up the ideal man, I would say, "There's this guy in New Jersey--he has a perfect marriage and he's not available--but he's the type I want: he's smart, has a great sense of humor, wears corduroy pants, and (unbelievably) likes women."
Most men we were meeting hated women. Their mothers were vampires; their wives were two-timers. And they had a million stories to tell. I took to wearing dark glasses on blind dates so I could doze off while they whined about their ex-wives who drank, ran around, or-- worse--overcharged.
When they started in on their mothers, I would run to a pay phone to "call" the boys and return with tragic news. "Josh has 105. I guess I should be going."
So when I heard that Don had become widowed, I thought--when he's ready--he's the one I want. And months later, when I got a message at WCBS that he had called, I raced to my friend Sandy in the next cubicle yelling, "My whole life is about to change!"
I called Don back. After some polite chitchat, he asked, "Can you get my daughter a job?" I told him I couldn't get Ed Murrow a job. And that was that.
I knew we had to meet face to face. Since I went out to Jersey every weekend to check on my folks, I decided to stake out the village hardware store where all the men hung out on Saturday mornings. Sure enough, there he was checking out the power drills. "I loved your columns in the Times," he said. "So ask me out," I thought. But that was that--again. Don much later told me he thought I was such a big deal that I was probably dating Dan Rather one night, Tom Brokaw the next. Right!
Then one Saturday--the worst time for single women to be out loose in a city infested with hand-holding couples--I bumped into Don and his girlfriend walking near Bloomingdale's. It turned into a three-movie, four-Goldenberg Peanut Chews day.
Months later I heard they had broken up. That's when I picked up the phone and called my buddy Joan Hamburg who's a broadcaster on WOR Radio in New York. The Reagan tax plan was all over the news that week.
It was 10:00 at night. Joan got up at six for work so she knew this had to be major. "You've got to book this guy on your show to do the Reagan tax plan. He's the Beatles' accountant and he'll be a giant."
"We've done the tax plan to death," she said.
"Hamburg. You have got to do this! And make sure you tell him I told you to call."
She knew desperation when she heard it.
"Give me the number."
The following Sunday night I was lying in bed talking to my friend Sandy when the other phone rang. He was on the line.
I hit the hold button. "I've got to get off. My whole life is about to change!"
Don thanked me and asked me to dinner and the ballet. I was so nervous I almost threw up in the Ladies' Room. I thought he was history when he left me in my lobby, but he called again for the following Tuesday. Five weeks later he moved in. Three months later we were engaged. Seven months later we were married.
He says he married me because he was planning on moving into the City anyway and I had a rent stabilized apartment.
Miracle is, we'll be married 25 years in January. My kids say we got married at Lourdes.